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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Off to South Texas!

A friend of mine said I was a superman for having 24 shows on my schedule this year so I thought I would post this picture of me busting through a steel wall. Actually, this was taken on my way to my show in South Padre Island, Texas. Thursday I took all day to make the drive, stopping numerous times to take some pictures. My first stop was at a place called the Car Connection. I had noticed this place just north of Waco off of I 35. It looked like they had some old cars and signs so I stopped and asked if I could take some pictures. They said OK and proceeded to show me a garage full of old signs. They had an old Coca Cola sign and a Miller Beer sign. The neon still worked on both. They also had this old Superman busting through the wall. Cool! Behind the place was more than 100 old cars. I could have stayed there much longer than I did. The image below was taken through the missing back window of an old vehicle. I shot five different exposures which were combined and tone mapped with Photomatix Pro. I also did a few other layer tricks to give it a more surreal look than I usually go for.
After leaving the Car Connection, I headed to San Marcus to check out Dick's Classic Garage. This is the newly opened museum of 60 classic cars owned and refurbished by businessman Dick Burdick. All are painted and polished like new, including a 1929 Duesenberg. He also started the Central Texas Museum of Automobile History in Rozansky where he has more than 130 vehicles. The image below is the hood ornament of one of the DCG vehicles.
I was hoping to spend the night in Harlingen so I needed to keep driving. While passing through Three Rivers around dusk I stopped to take this image of the Valero Refinery. The whole place is fenced off and I felt that surely someone would come ask me what I was doing. Places like this are real paranoid about pictures being taken. The funny thing is, I would learn more about the place by looking at it on Google Earth if I was up to no good.

This last one is my booth at the Beachcombers Art Show in South Padre Island. Good thing I took this Friday after setting up because many of them have now headed for new homes in South Texas.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More ridiculous rules for photography!

The Bar Harbor Maine Fine Arts Festival has in their rules...

*Note about photography: Because of the spread of digital and other "mass produced" means, photography does not fall under the guidelines for original, one-of-a-kind or true limited edition art. However, due to "popular demand" it has been decided to allow photography to be exhibited provided the artist certifies that the image will be part of a true limited edition. In other words, a provenance must be included with each individual image certifying that the image will be reproduced in only a limited number edition of 250 or less after which the creator/master files will be destroyed.

Oooooooooh ppppleeeeeeeeeeeeeease! Allow photography to be exhibited!!!!!!This is just another ridiculous rule written by people who don't have a clue about how complex digital photography and digital printing can be at a professional level. They have this stupid notion that you just push a few buttons on the computer and everything magically happens, perfect every time. Rules like this dictate not only how you market your work at their show but it would lock you in to marketing those images in the same manner everywhere else. I don't have a big problem with the 250 part because quite frankly its hard to sell that many of an image, especially when they come in large expensive sizes. However, NO PHOTOGRAPHER DESTROYS THEIR MASTER FILES! I sure don't know any that do. Not a chance in hell that I'm going to start doing it either. Why don't they try and tell Ansel Adams to start destroying his negatives that have all hit the 250 print mark. Good Luck!

OK...I'll quit bitch'n and tell you about these pictures. Tuesday night I went to an opening reception for a photography exhibit that my friend Gary Kelly has at the Gallery of the Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie. If you follow this blog you may remember that Gary and I did a partial Route 66 trip back in January. Many of the images in his exhibit were from that trip. About dusk I pulled my own camera out to do some shooting of my own. The image at the top is from the street in front of the theater looking through the windows where his work is hanging. These bottom two are examples to show you how simple it is to quickly create great images every time. Actually, I'm being a little sarcastic here because learning how to approach an image, knowing what you can do, and then learning how to do it takes some effort. This type of learning curve with digital is never ending by the way.

The image on the left was created from 5 exposures that were processed in Photomatix Pro. Sometimes PP gets it right and sometimes it needs some help. I guess if I always knew the perfect tone mapping settings I would nail it everytime. Didn't nail this one. For one the sky wasn't quite right and some areas lacked the contrast they needed. To make the image on the right, I processed a raw image that had the best sky and good detail in some other important areas. I made another layer from it and masked off parts of it that I didn't want. I also processed another raw image in order to use the part of the marque that said September 26th. Again I masked everything except the part of the marque that I wanted. I also ended up with three different curves adjustment layers that had various parts of them masked. More than likely when I actually print one I will end up tweeking it some more. Maybe someday they will have a "Make it perfect" button in Photoshop and I can just punch it and then print 250 of them out real quick.
So what's the significance of September 26th? A group called Beatlegras will be playing that night at the Uptown. It's also my birthday!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spending a little time in Fort Worth!

I spent Saturday over in nearby Fort Worth looking at the Amon Carter Museum and the Modern Art Museum. Before driving home we looked at an old theater and several old gas stations. My friend, Dan Meredith and I decided to come back Sunday evening and shoot several of the locations. The first two images were taken at a business which has several restored gravity pumps out front. It also has a metal fence around the whole place and you can barely fit a lens through the openings. It limited the compositions we could shoot because you had to shoot straight ahead from each opening. I took the top image with my 24 mm tilt-shift lens. It was also multiple images combined in Photomatix Pro.
We stopped at this bottom location twice. The evening light came in nicely on this station and I was able to get this shot. I like the red and green that repeats itself on the doors. Our theater location didn't have any lights on so we stopped back here while driving back to Big D after sunset. The only light on was the globe of the pump. We just kept driving. Oh well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Images from Omaha trip!

You would think that images shot when I went to Omaha would be shown before images I took while on my Rockport trip. Well, it seems that I am editing things a little out of order and just now sat down and took a good look at the work from the Omaha trip. The top image was taken at a run down Car Museum in northern Oklahoma. It is full of neat old cars but they are dusty and the building needs some work. I almost wish it had fewer cars with more room to work and photograph around each one. Not much light either, but that can be a good thing at times. The image below was found in another small town in the area. This old truck is just about to be completely covered up with vines.

After the first day of the Omaha show ended on Friday evening, I decided to stop and look at the Thomas Mangelsen Gallery. It is located right behind a parking garage where I had left my vehicle all day. Some pretty cool nature and wildlife photography. I also noticed The Diner which was in the same block. I decided to shoot it after the show was over on Saturday night. I tried to get there before it was completely dark and shot five exposures which were combined with Photomatix Pro. The bottom image was taken in Galena, Kansas which is just west of Joplin, Missouri. It was about 10:00pm when I took this and any light from sunset was long gone. I shot numerous compositions with a variety of exposures. During the long exposures I used some flash and even some colored gels with some of the flash. After looking at what I had shot, I decided that I liked a natural look the best.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

Wow... has it been crazy the last two weeks. My show in Omaha, Nebraska on June 26-28 went very well. It took most of the following Monday to drive home. This only left about three days to replace quite a bit of inventory that I would need for my next show in Rockport, Texas which would be held over 4th of July weekend. It seemed like I worked almost non-stop printing and stretching canvas but Thursday evening I was loaded up again and was off for Rockport. My brother, Allen, went with me. We made a stop in Salado around dusk to photograph the "City Garage". I had photographed it back in May but felt I could do some more with it. The first 2 images are from our stop at City Garage. Both are HDR images that were created in Photomatix Pro from multiple exposures. The top image still needed some manual blending of exposures to get it looking its best. Its also a challenge to decide what color balance to use because its a mixture of fluorescent, incandescent, and natural light. Auto white balance on the camera did a poor job. The white balance of the "81" sign is quite different in these 2 images.
Yesterday was spent driving home from another successful show in Rockport. We took the back roads and looked for interesting things to photograph. It seemed for awhile that every small town had a Rialto Theater. We found some other interesting subjects but I'm not sure if I got anything I would consider outstanding. The bottom image was taken in Sinton, Texas.